Bellator MMA tried to book Cat Zingano vs. Cris Justino for the women’s featherweight title earlier this year, but as the weeks went on, no progress was made and the headlining bout was eventually scrapped.
So what happened?
Zingano claims Justino refused to be drug tested ahead of their 145-pound showdown; however, “Cyborg” insists that was a “sad” smear campaign to help the former UFC bantamweight title challenger weasel out of the fight for the second time in her career.
“Alpha” previously turned down a Justino fight back in 2017.
“I wasn’t offered that fight,” Zingano told MMA Fighting. “I know coming into Bellator, we talked about how that was going to be a fight that we had for sure. I know also coming into Bellator, all of my footage of fighting was in the UFC — there was licensing stuff there, so they can’t promote me and they can’t use any of my fight videos or highlights, can’t even really talk about me without it being a licensing thing with the UFC. So they really wanted me to fight fights here and get tape, get reel, give me good matches against good 145-pound girls, and I’m relatively new to this weight class. So putting me in there and figuring it out, I wasn’t offered Cyborg.”
Bellator MMA President Scott Coker insists Zingano was offered the fight — but her manager turned it down.
“So basically Cat wanted to have one more fight before she fought Cris,” Coker said after Bellator 274. “I don’t even think she was the one who really made that call, it was her manager. So the manager said ‘we want one more fight.’ So we said ‘okay’ and we put together the fight for her. From there if she wins, she can fight Cris.”
Zingano, who turns 40 in just a few days, doubled down on her drug test stance:
“Independent testing for both of us, independent resource, just making sure there are no biases, there’s no people that we know, and just making sure everything is fair,” Zingano continued. “I did tell them in the beginning there were things that I want to do, where both of us would do, to make sure it’s a fair fight, and to make sure it’s a safe fight. And with those guidelines, it just never came out.”
I guess those “guidelines” don't include attempted murder.
Justino is not without her share of blame when it comes to steroid accusations, having flunked a drug test under the Strikeforce banner in early 2012. The Brazilian also had a brief run-in with USADA as a UFC athlete but was ultimately cleared of all charges.
That hasn’t stopped the MMA lynch mob from keeping their torches lit and their pitchforks sharp. Dozens of UFC headliners have failed performance-enhancing drug tests over the years — and been rewarded for it — but it seems Justino continues to be everyone’s favorite target.
Justino, 36, went on to rematch Arlene Blencowe in April, a unanimous decision victory that kept the featherweight title on the mantle at House Cyborg. As for Zingano, she’ll battle former Invicta fighter Pam Sorenson at Bellator 282 this Friday at Mohegan Sun.
“Sounds like Cat Zingano doesn’t want to fight,” Justino told MMA Fighting. “Hopefully she enjoys being on the YouTube prelims.”